Originally written for SFUniverse on November 21, 2008
Back in November of 2008, SCI FI Channel presented a new original movie titled Lost City Raiders. A cross between Waterworld and Indiana Jones, the movie stared James Brolin and Ian Somerhalder as a father / son team of salvagers struggling to survive in a post-global warming world.
I had a chance to chat with both of them and I was surprised to hear how passionate they were about the ‘Go Green’ warning that is at the heart of this scifi action flick.
High Dive at Hollywood & Vine
The movie opens with a rather startling image of divers trolling through a submerged Los Angeles, the famous Hollywood sign barely rising above the sea. Global warming has done its dirtiest and now what remains of the population of the planet has retreated to high-ground. One problem, the oceans are still rising and there doesn’t seem to be a scientific way to stop it. So what do you do when science fails you? You turn to the ancient combination of faith and magic.
Enter salvage master John Kubiak (James Brolin) who has been recruited by the Vatican to find an ancient relic that could be the key to stopping the rising. Just like another single-minded father we know, Kubiak keeps the details from his sons Thomas (Jamie Thomas King) and Jack (Ian Somerhalder) while endangering all of their lives as they try to beat a rich real estate mogul from getting to the relic first.
“Actually Jim and I had some pretty fun stuff to do,” says Ian, “We were wet most of the time and I was on [a jetski] for weeks and weeks. It was a great bit of fun and I tell you, Mr. Brolin has a lot of humor when it comes to stunts. That’s for sure!”
The real challenge of making this movie didn’t lie in the stunts but in the reality of filming on a boat off the coast of Cape Town.
“We shot in the open ocean quite often,” says Ian. “And in Cape Town around that time, you get what’s called a ‘cape doctor.‘ It’s a very strong wind. They call it the Cape Doctor because it just cleans the whole city out. And we were in these boats. Granted they were 90-feet, 130-feet long but we were in gale force winds of 60 miles an hour in the open ocean. That made shooting very interesting. You’re in these 12-foot waves, 15-foot waves. It was pretty bizarre actually.”
“I think the cameramen had more problem than we did,” says Brolin. “My biggest problem in that area was I kept hitting my head on this old steel ship over and over again.”
Still, Somerhalder and Brolin agreed that the final product was worth the effort, not only for the entertainment value but as a cautionary tale.
SCI FI Goes Green
“Well, as far as I’m concerned, I believe the clock is ticking,” says Brolin. “And I believe in everything that Al Gore had predicted and everything that we’re actually seeing. In 1910, most of the cars in America — I’m talking about 55% of the cars in America — were electric. And I would assume, had we continued on that path, we would probably be in pretty good shape fuel wise. Something happened to deter that and something is still trying to happen. And I think if we can nose off the stampede and get it going in another direction here quickly, we can curtail things. But in many ways, we’re going to have to accept the results of what we’ve done so far.”
Ian chimes in with, “I couldn’t agree more with Jim at every syllable if I tried. One of the reasons why I did [the movie was because] I do a lot of conservation work. I’m from New Orleans. I grew up on the Gulf of Mexico. And with climate change in the next 50 to 75 years, 75 to definitely 150 years, the United States of America alone is capable of losing up to 22,500 miles of coast land. Now that is a scary concept. Look at the Maldives. What happens to the Maldives? They’re going to be under water.”
But Ian feels the script really hits home by showing what would happen to familiar landmarks such as The Statue of Liberty, the Eiffel Tower and the Hollywood sign, should the polar ice caps melt.
“When you’re reading about a place a number of miles from your house 300-feet below the ocean, it gives you a sense of severity that you haven’t really thought about. So as a cautionary tale, yeah I think it could actually lend itself to be something that takes people’s imagination to a place where it seems feasible.”
“There’s a good portion of people who are facing it as at least a consequential possibility,” says Brolin. “And then there’s those that just scoff at the whole idea of global warming or any kind of dirtying and changing of the world that’s been damaged beyond nature’s force. I’m hoping that it turns people’s heads who are absolutely non-believers.”
Even though the theme is there, Brolin recognizes that the first job of the movie is to entertain and he believes it does that from page one.
“We have to start with entertainment. When I read the first page of this and here they were diving on Hollywood Boulevard looking at Grauman’s Chinese, I thought, wow, this is going to be a lot of fun. And of course, it was a lot of fun to do.”
That Old Black Magic
Much of the “fun” in the movie comes from the more speculative part — you know, where the ancient relic saves the world. I was very intrigued by the idea the film puts forth, tying in age-old bible stories to science and magic. Something that James Brolin wasn’t as sold on.
“As with all old relics in great movies they have movie powers that [are] beyond me. I think [about] the designs of the pyramids and what I saw in 10,000 B.C., the probabilities of how the pyramids were built by mammoths and such, it’s all so interesting and so intricate for those days. But as far as the magic, that’s not part of my thinking.”
Another thing that didn’t click with Brolin was the comparison to Indiana Jones; you know, atypical adventurer, scouring the ancient world for a magic relic that could help or hurt depending on who ends up getting their hands on the object first.
“That never occurred to me because the characters [in Lost City Raiders] seemed rougher. I could’ve been a trucker or a deep-sea fisherman and I identified with that more than anything kind of slick problem-solving. I looked at it as working guys in a new situation doing what they could to eek out a living.”
Ian, however, gives the comparison a little more leeway. “I think that Jim Brolin, as my father in the movie, there is some pretty fun banter that goes back and forth and it’s very similar to the way that those characters are written in Indiana Jones. And obviously Sean Connery and Jim Brolin are exceptionally handsome individuals. So…”
“Oh, thanks man,” says Brolin.
“Always looking out for you, Jim,” Ian replies and that, right there, is what made this movie work for me.
With a hunk for every age group and a pretty girl for the guys, Lost City Raiders is a great popcorn movie for a Saturday night. And if James and Ian have their way, you might just learn something, too.
Lost City Raiders premieres Saturday, November 22 at 9:00 pm as part of NBC Universal’s Green Week on Sci-Fi.
On a side note, Ian was asked about the possibility of a return visit on Lost and here’s what he had to say.
Ian: You know, I don’t think that’s going to happen, although everyone keeps saying you never know. But I went back, I think, for Season 2 and then one episode – five seconds in Season 3. I think it was Season 3. But those guys are over there rocking it. I don’t know where Boone fits back into that, but I’ll be sure to call Damon and see what he’s got.
LOST CITY RAIDERS — Pictured: Jamie Thomas King as Thomas Kubiak, Ian Somerhalder as Jack Kubiak, James Brolin as John Kubiak — SCI FI Channel Photo